An impending fear of growing old. Symptoms include panic, anxiety, dread, or terror at the thought of getting old and extreme avoidance measures taken against ageing.
Did you ever feel a lump in your throat, as your birthday was approaching close? Or panicked at the thought of no longer being young and beautiful? Has the thought of getting a single white hair, or a wrinkle or two, freaked you out beyond return? Is turning into the big three-0 the scariest horror story you’ve ever heard, and if you’ve already turned 30, has that always haunted you? Do you continuously lie about your age because if you don’t say it, it won’t be real? Even those as young as 20, considerably at the prime of their lives, are plagued with this growing tumor of fear at the mere thought of getting older, of not staying young forever, of not being able to stop the clock from ticking, and of never being able to reverse the effects of old-age.
These fears don’t stem from nothing and aren’t completely irrational. There are so many reasons why people fear growing old:
As the physical imprints of growing start to become more visible on your body, your fears become more urgent that you won’t be as attractive as you were, that these wrinkles on your face, or the grey hairs on your head, make you any less who you are. Even romantic songs stress on whether their lover will still love them when they’re no longer young and beautiful. Undeniably, the beauty industry hasn’t been kind to women with any signs of ageing and some have started using anti-ageing beauty products as early as 20, so there’s no surprise there. I can write chapters on how your wrinkles and grey hairs reflect a life lived, and should be celebrated rather than avoided, but that won’t change the feeling many get with every approaching birthday.
No matter how healthy your lifestyle is, ageing is also a withering process and health complications arise with it. Blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, arthritis, poor eyesight and many more come with old age, and people are aware of that. This is a rational fear and the only thing we can do is be as healthy as possible from as young as possible.
-Realizing you aren’t where you want to be
When you’re 20, 30 seems so far away, and when you get to it, 40 seems a century away. This makes it easier for us to set goals and envision where we want to be in our lives. The problem is, the older we get, the more we realize we aren’t where we thought we’d be and that our dreams and ambitions may never come true. Of course, that doesn’t take away from the achievements each one of us has been able to accomplish and the life we’ve lived, but it does take its toll on you.
-Fear of making mistakes
When we’re still young, mistakes made are lessons learned, but as we grow older, we cannot afford to make mistakes anymore. Fearing those mistakes makes us walk on the fence, not really living to the fullest, in hopes of staying away from any possible mistakes. The consequences of a mistake as we get older are far more severe than when we are still young, and relatively free. This comes in with the fear of responsibilities. The reason we can’t afford mistakes as we get older is because the basket of responsibilities we carry are filled to the max, but are still pretty empty when we are young.
Especially in a culture where being called a spinster starts at your late 20s, and your marriageability as a woman tremendously declines after you turn 30, the fear of being alone for the rest of your life is a scary one. You start to ask questions like: What if I don’t find a life partner? Should I lower my standards so I have a life companion? Can I handle being alone? Even if you do get married, the older you get, the less people will be around you as your needs for help increase and quite frankly, it’s a scary prospect.
We all know we’re mortal beings, and they always say, “the good die young”, but the idea of growing older inevitably leads to the idea of death. Just like the wrinkles and grey hairs, we fear rather than celebrate. Death isn’t as scary as people make it out to be, it’s not a loss, but rather an end of something great – the time to celebrate what did happen rather than mourn the things that didn’t.
Although they aren’t completely irrational, the fear of growing older stands in the way of living our lives to the fullest, and like every other fear, can be combated. A very expressive quote on ageing by James A. Garfield is: “If wrinkles must be written upon our brow, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.” So what can you do to combat these fears?
Put yourself first
This is a general rule that applies to everyone really, but to combat the fear of losing your beauty and desirability, pamper yourself. There’s nothing wrong with getting frequent facials, getting a blowout every once in a while, and going for a massage whenever you feel like it. Don’t forget to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle as well,. We’re not here to tell you what that is, but it should definitely be at the forefront of your concerns. Do what makes you feel good and what makes you feel beautiful, society be damned.
Know you are not alone
No matter how old you are right now, the fear of ageing is very common and many feel exactly the same way you do. It makes it worse when you think you’re isolated; take solace in knowing that your fears aren’t yours alone.
Vocalize your fears
Talk to someone about it; exchange dialogue. This applies to any problem you may have; don’t ever suppress your worries. Talking about it will help you overcome it by sharing the worry with someone else, and it might even help you understand more where your worries stem from. Sometimes, when we put our worries into words, the thoughts themselves become clearer.
Get out of your comfort zone
Refuse the idea that certain activities are for certain ages. There’s no such thing as being too old to do something. So long as your body allows you to do something, YOU’RE NOT TOO OLD!
And lastly, embrace your age.
Don’t try to lie about your age, but rather take pride in the years the world has been blessed with your existence.
Age is just a number, and it only carries the significance you give it. When we start looking at the years we’ve lived as memories, accomplishments and lessons, as celebrations, rather than as years lost that we can never look back, we realize, there’s nothing to fear. Ageing is what we make of it, and a positive attitude is all it takes to change it from a fear to an empowerment tool.